12-Apr-2011 (Tue)
Wherein we rearrange the office, and you all panic about Big Brother.

This is where the magic happens, people:

Today Devon and I spent hours rearranging the back office to make more room to store t-shirts and stuff. This involved throwing away a lot of obsolete gear. I had like 5 CRT monitors in here! I guess I thought "I might need them some day."

There was a time when there were, I think, eight PCs in here to run both webcasts, the online store, the kiosks, and various other things. Now we've got just the one Mac Mini, one PC in too-large a case acting as a router (which could probably be replaced with a solid-state appliance if I took the time to learn how to replicate my PF rules on such a thing) and a Cisco for the T1. Those eight computers took up pretty much an entire 7' metro-rack shelf, and now it's all in one pile on the edge of the desk.

The three big racks at the bottom of the pictures are battery backup. They are the noisiest part of this whole operation.

I don't see to have any photos of the old mess, but you can see a little bit of what it used to look like back in 2004 here.


Meanwhile, I've been getting mail all week from people freaking out about this proposal that the Entertainment Commission is hearing on Tuesday, where SFPD is hoping to make it a legal requirement that all nightclubs scan your driver's license, record video constantly, and make records of all of this available to the PD upon request. And scan every patron at every event with a metal detector, and a host of other idiocy. You can read it here.

Pretty crazy, right? Seems like the sort of thing that I'd be more than a little outraged over, and yet I haven't been screaming about it.

Well, that's because there's pretty much zero chance of this passing.

What happened was this: last year, in an attempt to appear like he was actually doing something and not just being an absentee landlord who was busy campaigning for his next job, Mayor Newsom asked SFPD to come up with a list of "best practices" for nightclubs to follow. They got together with noted anti-nightlife shitbag David Chiu (who is running for Mayor, incidentally) and turned this request for a list of "best practices" into a recommendation for legal requirements. The wheels turn slowly, so it's only just now coming up for its first hearing.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has this to say:

EFF to San Francisco Entertainment Commission: Don't Turn SF into a Police State

Events with strong cultural, ideological, and political components are frequently held at venues that would be affected by these rules. Scanning the IDs of all attendees at an anti-war rally, a gay night club, or a fundraiser for a civil liberties organization would have a deeply chilling effect on speech. Participants might hesitate to attend such events if their attendance were noted, stored, and made available on request to government authorities. This would transform the politically and culturally tolerant environment for which San Francisco is famous into a police state.

We are deeply disappointed in the San Francisco Entertainment Commission for considering such troubling, authoritarian, and poorly thought-out rules. The Commission should reject this attack on our most basic civil liberties. San Francisco cannot hope to remain a hub of cultural and political activity if we are stripped of our civil liberties the moment we walk through the door of a venue.

The Bay Guardian says:

Proposed SFPD crackdown on clubs gets a hearing

But critics of the legislation call it a gross overreaction to a handful of incidents that have happened around nightclubs and they say the SFPD has shown unreasonable bias against one of the city's biggest industries. Sup. Scott Wiener recently asked city staff to prepare a study of the economic impact of nightlife in order to defend clubs against crackdowns like this.

The proposal would also require clubs to have one security guard for every 50 patrons, which club owners say would be an economic hardship for an industry operating on thin margins of profitability.

Anyway, once the City Attorney weighs in on this it's dead, on the basis not only of blatant unconstitutionality, but also, how much money it will cost the city to defend against the inevitable lawsuits (and yes, you can be assured that one of those lawsuits would have been from me.)

But, now that the various political weasels have hitched their wagons to this star, they are reluctant to just walk away from it. So, it's still on the calendar, and when the ink dries with most of this proposal crossed out so that all that remains is "your sidewalk has to be well-lit", they will get to declare victory and crow about how their proposal passed, and they've done so much to personally and single-handedly improve safety by dealing with that "nightclub problem."

Sadly, the "1 guard per 50 customers" thing is one of the parts that might actually pass, and that is just a ridiculous level of over-staffing. But hey, I'm sure David Chiu knows better than I do what staffing is reasonable for my business. He's the expert.

So, to summarize:

  1. There's very likely nothing to worry about, and

  2. Fuck these people.

17 Responses:

  1. Jim Sweeney says:

    I would love to hear what the logic was behind 1 security guard per 50 people. Why not 52? or 91? or 134? Is it like "Cool Hand Luke"? 50 just sounded like a nice round number? And anyway, shouldn't the size of the security guard matter? Seems like that would be part of the equation, right?

    But yes, ultimately it really all should come down to the pulling of made-up numbers straight from the ass of David Chu, because let's face it, who better to make sweeping, arbitrary decisions about an industry he knows nothing about than some guy who thinks he's found the magic ticket to the mayor's office.

  2. Sean Newton says:

    1 per 50? Is a jail or prison even that well staffed?

  3. Andreas Fuchs says:

    If you're serious about the firewall thing, I highly recommend pc-engines for reliability & configurability. One of the recommended ways to run it is *bsd, so you won't have to re-do those pf rules either (:

  4. Thomas Lord says:

    The way that people with interesting, uh, agendas toss around the phrase "best practices" as relates to law enforcement is pretty interesting. I see it again and again and again in relation to cops and schools. "We must do [fascist thing X] because [X] is widely regarded as Best Practices." It often boils down to some vendor selling something and publishing scientifically questionable outright bogus "whitepapers" about how their snake oil saves lives and such.

    What it comes down to in practice is that when someone says "Best Practices" in a context like that what they really mean is "The Largest Amount of Money We Are Currently Prepared to Spend in a Corrupt Fashion While Trampling the Civil Liberties of Some Folks Our Patrons Don't Like".

    • jwz says:

      Conveniently, it is only my money they are considering spending (while taking their giant steaming shit on civil liberties).

  5. Jim says:

    1) What are your PF rules?
    2) It seems a T1 is pretty archaic & over-expensive technology at this point. Towerstream (in boston) gives us great connectivity 8Mb/s symmetric for $800 which is 1/2 of what we were paying for a t1, and Comcast business seems even cheaper & better (but not available in our commercial district)

  6. Luke Lathrop says:

    looks like a cisco 2600 router. why have that and a pc as a router? shoot, mine does routing, firewall, dns, dhcp.

    • Luke Lathrop says:

      duh...never mind .."replicate PF rules" is the answer. I suppose I can help with that.

    • jwz says:

      The pc has 3 Ethernet ports on it (office, public, uplink). I haven't checked, but past experience suggests that making the cisco have those extra ports would cost 10x as much as a pc.

      Also my experience dealing with cisco configuration has been... less than pleasant.

  7. Andrew Stern says:

    Oh man, an RDL ST-CL2 as a compressor/limiter?

    Whatever that thing is feeding should be renamed The Suck and Pump 3000.

    • jwz says:

      It's only used on the rare occasions when the lounge coffin is the source of the webcast audio. For the main room, Soundweb does volume normalization on the webcast feed.

  8. Natesh Daniel says:

    Thank you for calming my fears about this legislation from the Entertainment Commission. I would help protest it.

  9. Jed Davis says:

    In particular, the PC Engines boards run *BSD/i386. If the router PC is also running *BSD/i386, then migration might be very easy indeed.

    And now I'm going to try to see if there are any mayoral candidates who *don't* suck....

  10. Julien Goodwin says:

    I would suggest my own preferred router/firewall vendor (Juniper), but they don't make anything small that takes a T1 directly, only via serial (If that's how you plug in to the Cisco I'd suggest any of the SRX2X0 models as great devices, JunOS makes a hell of a lot more sense to run then IOS, but it does require learning it).

    • Andrew Stern says:

      The Juniper devices really are great and JunOS is lot of fun to learn. I'm pretty sure I've seen T1/E1 modules for them though. I'm currently monkeying around learning Mikrotik which is very powerful for the $$.

      In the Bay Area I would get one of the SRX series and the DOCSIS 3 card and go with Comcast business 100Mb service. Cheap, effective and reliable. Or perhaps Metro ethernet from Cogent; there's also RF service from Webpass or Wiline or Monkeybrains.

  11. Insolence Farley says:

    For replacing that router, I recommend getting a Soekris router (with whatever options you may need, like dual/quad ethernet ports) at http://soekris.com/ and throw pfsense on it to replicate your pf rules, from http://www.pfsense.org/ I've setup numerous enterprises with point to point vpns through wan, and numerous QoS rules via pfsense, it's a solid OS on a solid piece of hardware that is small and very cost-effective when it comes to power consumption. You'll pay for the new router in power savings in just a few months.